Dismissing husband has been lying and cheating
My husband is in general a detached person, doesn’t communicate about his feelings, picks up hobbies and thoughts obsessively, shows very little affection, has no close friends or family members, etc. This summer he’d been acting even more remote. By the end of the summer he initiated a conversation with me about how he’d been thinking I was a strong person and he didn’t know if he had the strength to match me in our relationship. He’d never expressed doubt about our marriage before, so after several minutes I asked him if he had a crush on someone. Yes he did, but swore that it was a girl at work he’d been talking with and it was nothing.
Over the next few weeks, through searching his phone and asking very direct questions I came to find out it was at least a full blown emotional affair. Later, after more phone investigation on my part and discovering the "snap chat" app on his phone he admitted to pursuing many others, at least eight, all the way back to when we first started dating ten years ago. Because he didn’t work with the other woman most of them were mainly met up with electronically (texting, email, chat rooms). He told himself he needed some kind of emotional connection, but now realizes that he actually wanted sex. Presumably he was able to stop himself short of that. Can you help me understand what I’m dealing with here? I feel totally disgusted, disrespected, and can’t imagine he’ll ever be able to change this pattern.
Based on the limited information provided in your question, it sounds like your husband may have a dismissing style of attachment (see truth about attachment).
People with a dismissing style of attachment are uncomfortable with intimacy. When dismissing individuals get close to another person they dismiss or deny their emotions, their need for social support, and they throw themselves into tasks, work, and hobbies in an attempt to distance themselves from their romantic partners. Simply put, dismissing individuals focus on their autonomy and independence.
A dismissing individual’s need for autonomy often plays out in ways that you describe. Dismissing individuals are more likely to engage in deception and infidelity than securely attached individuals (see attachment and lying, attachment and infidelity). Cheating on a partner (or flirting with someone else) and engaging in deception are two of the ways that dismissing individuals keep their romantic partners at a safe distance – If I am cheating on you and lying to you, then I am not that close to you and that makes me feel safe – I am that uncomfortable with intimacy.
Ironically, while dismissing individuals like distance in their primary relationships, they can often be warm and charming in more superficial contexts – like when flirting and cheating – relationships where they know the involvement will be limited and constrained.
This description may or may not fit your husband’s behavior, but individuals with a dismissing style of attachment are more likely to behave this way.
If your husband does have a dismissing style of attachment, it might not be that helpful to read to much into his own explanation for his behavior (he was just looking for sex). Dismissing individuals often lack insight into their own actions.
If this description does fit your husband, the good news is attachment related issues can be resolved through cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, dismissing individuals are more likely to resist going to counseling for obvious reasons – therapy forces dismissing individuals to deal with issues they would rather avoid – intimacy and commitment.
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